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preaching article 6 Reasons Why Pastors Must Be More Courageous Today

6 Reasons Why Pastors Must Be More Courageous Today

based on 1 rating
Dec 3, 2015
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If I could choose one more course for ministry training and preparation, it would be “Courageous Leadership.” I hear from so many pastors and staff who are trained well in the classical disciplines, but who are ill-prepared for the real world of church ministry.

Though there have certainly been more difficult times in the course of Church history for pastors, leading a church today is much tougher than it was 20 and 30 years ago. There have been some demographic and cultural shifts that reflect this reality. But some of the challenges can only be understood in the context of spiritual warfare.

So, what are some of the specific reasons pastors and church leaders must be more courageous today? Though my list is far from exhaustive, allow me to name six of the key factors.

1. There have been dramatic shifts in culture, most of them adversarial to biblical Christianity. Church leaders can no longer assume that biblical values are normative in culture today. To the contrary, many of the cultural mores are antithetical to Christian truth. The pastor must take a stand in this adversarial environment while remaining pastoral and compassionate.

2. The position of pastor is no longer held in high esteem in many communities. When I was a pastor in the 80s and 90s, I could count on some level of respect from community members because of my vocation. That is not the case most of the time today.

3. Church critics can be vicious. Have you noticed that, throughout the Bible, the greatest harm to a believing community comes from dissension among the believers? Opposition from the outside is a challenge; dissension from within can be devastating. And church critics today seem to have gone wild!

4. Pastors must push against the “me” mentality of many church members. For reasons I have noted for years, many of our church members see church membership as tantamount to country club membership. They pay their way and get their perks. Pastors who push against this pervasive and unbiblical mentality often do so at great cost.

5. Good church leaders must say “no” often. The best church leaders say no to the good so they can say yes to the best. But those who receive a “no” don’t often receive it well.

6. Ultimately church leadership is spiritual warfare. Paul leaves no doubt to this reality in Ephesians 6:13: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.” Pastors and church leaders are truly engaged in spiritual warfare. They must have courage, a courage that can only come from God.

I am not certain about the mindset of Joshua before he led the people of God into the Promised Land, but it seems like he needed an extra dose of courage. Repeatedly in Joshua 1, God tells him: “Be strong and courageous . . . “ (Joshua 1:6).

Church leaders need to be reminded of the need for courage today. Serving as a pastor is an impossible job without the strength and courage that comes only from God.

Church members: may I encourage you, even exhort you, to pray that your pastors and church leaders will have the courage they need to lead God’s churches? Let me hear from you.

Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources and the co-author of Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations.

Talk about it...

Philip Orticke avatar
Philip Orticke
0 days ago
I am a church leader and strongly affirm what has been said in this article. In my secular life as a Union steward I find that having a strong Collective Bargaining Agreement helps to establish the boundaries of fairness in the work place. Not so in the church! At times I am awed by the tactics that some members will triangulate around to manpulate, control and intimidate others including the Pastor. I agree that the forces at work has to be in the spritual realm as there is no plausible rationale othrewise to explain it-- uncommon strength and courage is prayed for to not quit.
E L Zacharias avatar
E L Zacharias
0 days ago
A men, brother!
E L Zacharias avatar
E L Zacharias
0 days ago
Great list, Thom, as you call pastors to be aware of the forces that press in upon faithful service to God: forces that come from the outside as well as the inside. It IS important to recognize and draw the line between the Worldly thoughts and practices, but, as you mention, the greatest tensions in our ministry come from within. Charting the course, Pastors will steer a straight path between what others want and what might seem okay to us but which is not really on our ministry to do list. Watch for the hidden snares, like the rocks of Gossip, or the subtle but powerful currents of the Country Club Christians that seek to manipulate ministry by the forceful stream of popularity or finances. Steer clear of these, asserting your role as Pastor. Captains are not merely employees of the company, they are vested with great authority and responsibility. Pastors, likewise, are not mere employees of the church but are called servants of God, working on behalf of the people. Do not understand it any other way, lest you lose your confidence and perhaps your faith.
Dr. Ronald Shultz avatar
Dr. Ronald Shultz
0 days ago
I had a deacon once ask me if I wanted to be a pastor for the prestige. I laughed and asked him what decade he was in. Today, you're a target for "friend" and foe alike. So many leave Bible College expecting all churches to be like the church they were raised in or come from only to find out pretty quickly that is not true at all. Hence many drop out because the stress is too much or the rejection too sharp. They also find out too often that the churches want a CEO, not a Pastor. Oh, he can preach, but he better be one who can raise funds and make the numbers fiscally and physically come in. If not, it matters not that he can preach like Spurgeon or Moody. We need to keep the building kept up so we need the numbers. Keep the messages light and don't tiptoe on the tithers nor get the teachers in a titter. The Old Guard wants it their way or the highway. Young people do not want to hang out with old people and the old people get frustrated with the young. We create SS classes that keep the elder from being able to teach the younger creating generation gaps instead of generation interaction. No, Brother Deacon, it is definitely not for the prestige. ;-)
Bob Gosey avatar
Bob Gosey
0 days ago
Well said. Also enjoyed the article.
James Lee avatar
James Lee
0 days ago
We ll said, Ronald. I have seen a lot of changes in the past 20 years.
Dr. Ronald Shultz avatar
Dr. Ronald Shultz
0 days ago
By the way, great article! As you can see it pushed a few buttons. ;-)
Roy Pierce avatar
Roy Pierce
0 days ago
Maybe some church members are like soldiers. When soldiers are not involved with fighting the enemy they fight each other. Could be if members/pastors obeyed the last words that Jesus uttered on earth there would be more harmony within the church and this country/world would be a different place. Acts 1:8
Etienne Nelis avatar
Etienne Nelis
0 days ago
My father was a pastor in africa and then in canada. He left the church because of all the manipulations within his church(united church of canada). He didn't loose faith,he just left preaching.
Lafern Cobb avatar
Lafern Cobb
0 days ago
Yes! We as Pastors do need courage! I have also noticed a lack of respect for pastors, in and out of the church. But we who minister must just keep on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What else can we do but trust in the Lord? ,
Isaac Nkadimeng avatar
Isaac Nkadimeng
0 days ago
Amen! The church is facing challenges but we need to be courageous and focused.
Mary Flores avatar
Mary Flores
0 days ago
Great article!! Yes times have changed. But as Pastor we stand on the unchangable word of God! Thank you for sharing!,
James Lee avatar
James Lee
0 days ago
Thank you Thom I needed this article. Just yesterday my bride and I were chewed out by a lady from the church I pastor over Christmas decorations, of all things. She leaving the church over decorations, while people are dying every day without Christ.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.